Drawing for Improvements in Telegraphy
After years of experiments, Alexander Graham Bell devised the first apparatus to transmit human speech via machine. Bell patented his “Improvements in Telegraphy" (aka the telephone) on March 7, 1876, making it “…possible to connect every man’s house, office or factory with a central station, so as to give him direct communication with his neighbors.” His work culminated in one of the most profitable and contested of all 19th-century patents.
From the series: Patent Case Files, compiled 1836 - 1993. Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, 1836 - 1978.
Dial or dash?
Letter from Captain C. M. McLure to Captain L. B. Norton Praising the Signal Corps Telegraph, 11/12/1863
Union forces used two types of telegraphy: the dial (or Beardslee) and the Morse. The dial telegraph could be set up quickly, giving it great flexibility. Operators needed to be literate but not as highly trained as Morse operators. Chief Signal Officer Albert Myer advocated the dial system; the Military Telegraph Service used the Morse system.
In his letter, Capt. C. M. McClure praised the capabilities of the Beardslee system, which had been successfully employed at Fredericksburg. By the end of 1863, however, the Signal Corps moved towards the Morse system with its relatively stronger signal strength. When Secretary of War Stanton removed Myer as chief signal officer in November 1863, the military primacy of the Morse telegraph was complete.
Celebrating American Inventions: Beyond Morse Code
Be sure to follow USAGov as our colleagues there celebrate American Inventions this July 4th!
The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here. As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.
We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.
“Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”
These famed words, the first communicated clearly over telephone, are historic in the world of American inventions. Spoken by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant on March 10, 1876, they marked the beginning of a new era - the era of the telephone.
It’s hard to imagine a world without telephones now, but prior to 1876, the world communicated without them, often with a telegraph and Morse code. While Alexander Graham Bell was attempting to improve the telegraph, he came up with the idea of a telephone and the ability to “talk with electricity.”
The first sound transmitted over a telephone, the twanging of a clock spring, occurred June 2, 1875, and provided more motivation for Bell to continue improving his invention. He filed for a patent on February 14, 1876 and received United States Patent No. 174,465 on March 7 of the same year.
The patent filing came with some controversy surrounding it, as Elisha Gray, another inventor, filed for a caveat hours later on the day! A famous legal battle later ensued between Western Union (Gray’s telephone company) and Bell Telephone, which Bell won.
Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.
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Image: PFC Isabella Hardacre, Chicago, Illinois, a WAC telephone operator in U. S. headquarters at the Potsdam Conference in Germany disposes of hundreds of inquiries a day on the information phones of the headquarters switchboard., 07/15/1945